Riding pantless may not be classy enough for the subways of London or France, but it clearly isn't beneath the patrons of the MBTA.
On Sunday, over 100 Bostonians stripped down to their underpants on the T as part of No Pants Subway Ride 2010, a nationwide event organized by Improv Everywhere. It’s what that crazy college student deep inside of you has secretly desired to do since arriving on this staid campus, but has refrained from doing so for many reasons—including, but not limited to, hygiene concerns, freezing temperatures, the wandering eyes of commuting skeeves, and those pesky public indecency laws.
But as manifested all too starkly on Sunday, plenty of T riders share this buried, but burning, desire to shed clothing in public. The Boston Society of Spontaneity, who organized the Boston part of the event, instructed partici"pants" to arrive at Alewife at noon, and to travel on the Red Line and pull off their pants in the process. The pantless mass traveled in groups, because, as one BSS Website sagely observed, “riding around town in your underwear by yourself (especially if you’re female) isn’t the safest thing to do.” Duly noted.
For the faint-hearted: may it be known that such brazenly naked acts of rebellion will not put you at odds with the law. "This is NOT illegal," the BBS Web site states. "Regular underwear does not constitute indecent exposure."
This isn't all fun and games, however. According to one blogger, “The first rule of No Pants Day, per its creators, is that you don’t talk about No Pants Day. You also don’t giggle, exchange significant glances, or pose for risque photos in the T you’re supposed to be pantskrieging.”
Despite BSS' lack of connection to Harvard, the pantless crusade has been mistakenly linked to Harvard in the past. In 2009, one subway minstrel assumed Harvard was involved in the gag—perhaps the result of Primal Scream lore, or the correlation between intelligence and disregard or ignorance of social norms. As he sang an impromptu song, he quizzed a scantily clad passerby, “Are you from Harvard? …No? You should be.”
But since we don't expect her to make an appearance on the T anytime soon, we'll have to fully appreciate what we do have: if we ever pass some of these formerly pantless Bostonians on the Red Line, we'll definitely give them a holler.